COMMENT: GSK’s failed assault on chilled drinks
GlaxoSmithKline is axing its healthy juice brand Plenty.
It seems that GlaxoSmithKline has finally admitted defeat with its 'super-juice' brand. Plenty's product life cycle has spanned two years and has been particularly troublesome. The case highlights the importance of effective brand positioning and developing lifestyle supporting functional benefits.
The decision to axe Plenty follows a period of disappointing sales. Leading retailers Asda, Tesco and Safeway all stopped stocking the juice in November after reviewing the brand's performance.
Unfortunately, there seems to be an element of deja vu for GSK. In 1999 the company attempted to enter the smoothie market using its well-established Ribena brand, only for the product to be withdrawn in 2000.
Plenty was originally launched in February 2002 in four different variants. After a six-month trial, the products were withdrawn despite prior claims by GSK's Nutritional Healthcare arm that the brand was signifying "the creation of a new super-juice category".
However, GSK remained optimistic, feeling there was potential to lead a new fresh juice sub-category as well as boosting the fresh juice market as a whole. Consequently, Plenty emerged in May this year in two variants, Essential C and Essential Energy, both of which retailed for around £2.
The re-launch marked a slightly more 'mainstream' repositioning of the brand from the previous year, with more point of purchase promotions and adverts in retail magazines.
The failure highlights the stiff competition in the burgeoning UK juice market. Well-established brands such as Innocent and P&J Smoothies, as well as supermarket own-brand products, have created considerable entry barriers for newcomers. Plenty's energizing variant faced similar problems from a
saturated energy drinks market.
The problems GSK has experienced with Plenty highlight that brands must do more than merely promote any associated natural health benefits to consumers. Products must be shown to be 'lifestyle supporting' and possess a clear positioning. Plenty's positioning as a hybrid product "beyond existing juice blends and smoothies" only served to confuse consumers. Furthermore, the brand's packaging was not a convenient on-the-go product like many of its smoothie counterparts, yet was also too small to take home.
Sectors: Soft drinks
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